When life costs too much, women have fewer babies, say experts

In 2020, the fertility rate per woman, an estimate of the average number of children a woman can expect to have in her lifetime, stood at 1.17 in British Columbia, the highest bottom of all Canadian provinces. By comparison, Saskatchewan had the highest index, with 1.78 children per woman for the same year.

While this indicator hit an all-time low nationally in 2020, at 1.4 children per woman, experts say housing prices in some major British Columbia cities have deterred many from starting a family. .

It is striking what is happening in British Columbiasays Don Kerr, professor of demography at the King’s University College from Western University, Ontario. British Columbia has never had such a low fertility rate. Her total fertility rate has fallen below 1.2, which is really low.

Families are fleeing the big cities

To conduct regional studies, the researcher obtained from Statistics Canada data on fertility in Canada’s 41 census metropolitan areas (CMAs), urban centers with a population of 100,000 or more.

It found that in 2020, Victoria, Nanaimo and Vancouver had the three lowest fertility rates among the country’s 41 urban centers. Vancouver was at 1.09 children per woman, Nanaimo was at 1.08 children per woman and Victoria was at 0.95 children per woman.

On the other hand, he notes with astonishment that Chilliwack is at the top of the list, with a fertility rate of 1.72 children per woman in 2020, and that Abbotsford-Mission is not far away, with 1.57 children per woman for the same year.

So I imagine people who can’t afford to live in Vancouver, but want to start a family, do a lot of back and forth between the city and their homes. And those who don’t prioritize family life are more likely to stay […] in Vancouver or Victoriahe concludes.

In 2020, the fertility rate of Vancouverites was 1.09 children per woman, according to Don Kerr, professor of demography at King’s University College at Western University in Ontario.

Photo: Radio-Canada / ALEXANDRE LAMIC

A Takemi Fellow in International Health at Harvard University’s School of Public Health and also a researcher at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Farah Shroff believes the province is not providing enough benefits to families, such as affordable child care, to encourage them to have children.

In British Columbia, the problem is caused by a combination of lack of care for children [et] economic barrierslaments the researcher.

The tendency to have fewer children can also be explained by other factors, remind the two experts, such as delaying the moment of founding a family to study or find a good job.

Long-term consequences

Having fewer children will inevitably have consequences in the years to come, believes Don Kerr. We know that we will probably see at least 25% of our population over the age of 65 in the next 10 to 15 yearswarns the demographer.

This means, according to him, that it will be necessary to depend more on immigration to increase the available workforce, but also that there will be fewer young children, therefore fewer applications for places in schools. .

Farah Shroff believes that it is up to the province to put policies in place, such as affordable childcare services, a guaranteed minimum income or access to cheaper housing, to encourage young adults to have children.

Now we see that [le coût élevé des logements] has an impact on many other things, including fertility and the decision to have a child, a second or a thirdshe points out.

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